Zooey Deschanel and the Lost Art of a Smile


Author’s Note: This is my first attempt at a non-sports, non-story telling entry… with a topic I probably know little about. Comments appreciated.

It was 85 degrees outside today- an almost official start to spring time. My Facebook newsfeed also reeked of springtime, as many friends (yes, purely coincidental) found a special partner for which they could now change their relationship status for.

With springtime also comes a slew of independent/big-time romantic comedies to the theaters, most which inevitably suck, but some which actually have some substance to them. The latter ones I happen to enjoy.

One of my favorite films of 2009 happened to be 500 Days of Summer, a “coming of age” film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The film chronicles Gordon-Levitt’s character, Tom, and 500 days of his attraction, detraction, anger, heartbreak, and other emotions as it relates to his co-worker at the card agency, Summer (Deschanel).

I watched it again on Sunday night with a friend who was trying to find certain scenes relating to stages of romantic relationships for a project she was working on, and I found myself listening more intently to the dialog and the body language of the characters

First off, unlike many Hollywood movies that involve romance, 500 Days of Summer can actually happen in real life. Wait, it DOES happen in real life. Girl notices something interesting about guy (in this case, Summer enjoyed the musical group The Smiths), guy is attracted to girl, yet has no idea how to pursue her, guy and girl get more comfortable with each other, do lovey-dovey things that couples do (I assume), girl then reneges on her feelings and starts losing interest (or other way around), guy gets pissed, feels duped/agitated/whatever other word that could be a possible synonym for unhappy, hates everything he originally liked about girl, goes on weird blind date with other girl, then reconciles with original girl, but as friends, and on and on and on. I will not spoil the ending for those who have not seen it.

The body language, as mentioned above, is what most intrigued me. Particularly Deschanel’s smile. This now starts my real-life romantic/casual observations.

The smile itself is such an underrated everyday vice. People’s days can be made with a simple smile acknowledging their presence, or making them feel appreciated in a conversation. During my 24 hour experimentation with the smile, I walked around from class to class, not compulsively texting like I usually do, and just smiled. And check it out- I actually got positive looks from most people not on their phones, and actually felt better about myself.

It’s unfortunate that people neglect the smile in everyday life. Just think, if Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, or any other rivals smiled at each other, how much more pleasant the world could be. A smile makes you more approachable, in any social situation. You might be the dumbest guy at the MENSA meeting (yes, they are all smart there) but if you have the most genuine smile in the room, somebody is going to come up and talk to you.

I’m going to bring back my Vegas trip for a second, and discuss my social experiences waiting in the lines. Most of the people in the clubs. like many waiting in line to pay for groceries, had a look of anxiousness on their faces, as in “LET ME PAY MY $15 and GET ME THE F*** IN THERE!” I, being rather laid back and eager for social stimulation, kept a smile and attempted conversation. It’s amazing how people reacted to a smile- they were much more eager to talk to me, rather than the much better dressed guy behind me, who also sported a lot more cash. I guess it also helped that I made marginally funny jokes- but that’s beside the point.

Obviously there is a certain way to smile. There is a difference between an honest, friendly smile: and the “pedosmile” most recently seen on every episode of “To Catch a Predator”

The former smile is preferred. As President Obama clearly demonstrates, a full extension of the mouth on both sides, with his pearly whites fully shown, allows for a bystander to feel at home, a sense of comfort, due to the 500 watt smile.
On the other hand, our child predator example, while smiling, is giving off a mysterious, and mischievous aura about himself- not exactly someone you really want to be around.

Smiling is all about presentation. While crafted in the script, this was the most genuine picture of smile between the costars of 500 Days of Summer I could find- Summer looks up at Tom with a genuine, yet tired smile, still signifying her interest in the man. Tom, flashes the Obama smile, clearly asking for conversation and making himself an enticing figure for Summer with the vibe he gives off in his lower face.

The point of this diatribe is simple- Smile. It makes the whole world a better place. But do it properly. Or else you end up talking to Chris Hansen. Or with a fresh whiskey coke on your Armani buttondown.

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